Oct 9, 2008

Flow and being Stuck. (Open the Pod Bay Doors Hal)

One of my colleges just pointed out the power of the Nap which I agree with, though I'm not sure I want to put myself in a pod of any sort, though I %100 agree that sleep is often the best solution. Now I can give some statistically meaningless examples if that would help. (oh wait that never helps) Anyway on a small scale I just switch projects (or when coding maybe just switch to a different area of the code, as long as I haven't broken the whole thing ;) when I get very stuck, or have a unidentifiable bug, or when I come up against what looks like an intractable problem, or if it still looks hopeless when I come back, no longer frustrated then I sleep on it. Unfortunately that does not usually mean a nap, but rather waiting for tomorrow morning. But I find that quite often my brain has solved the problem for me, or by having to search around in the project code to get back to where I was brings me to the forgotten or unexpected point where the problem (bug) or solution (challenging feature) lies. Oh that brings up one more point. When I stop working on something because I have other priorities but it's going well, I often leave it open hoping to drop right back into the same spot and regain my flow. But if things are frustrating or I'm stuck, then I close everything down. That process removes me from it far more than just going away from the computer. It frees me, I don't see the problem staring at me when I come back to the computer, and I don't feel it hovering just over my holder, it's a good 2-10 minutes away just to look at it again. I think that as well as the chance to delve back into it and navigate through the project to the target area helps. It's something that a good IDE can make happen or not. I'm somewhat interested in the idea of "flow", action without effort or thought, and I've though about the things that break flow, but this line of thinking makes me think about the things that break the writers-block, being stuck, or bug-lock (I just made that up). It's kind of like the anti-flow, and it's funny that the things that are the enemy of "flow" can also be the enemy of being "stuck", and thus used positively.

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